Pratt Institute


Student Name: Isabel Meisner

School: Pratt

Studio: CityPlanning: Parks & Open Space

Professor(s): Elliott Maltby

Site: 23rd/Madison Square Park

Project Name: Bring to Light

Project Description:

Lighting in Madison Square Park and the adjacent Broadway pedestrian plaza has not been designed with the human experience in mind.  There is a disconnect between the lighting’s function and how and when people use the space.

By creating a lighted urban environment with four different lighting installations, placed in select locations, Bring to Light seeks to reconcile the pedestrian experience and the built environment.

Through lighting that enhances human interaction and promotes exploration of the built environment, people may better understand their own impacts on the city and its people.

Download Pratt Student Projects Spring 2012


Jean Brennan


BROADWAY Site: Bowling Green & 23rd/Madison Square Park

Commitment & Time-frame:

Seven students from the Graduate Communications Design at Pratt Institute are enrolled for this 2-credit Special Project running from January 19th till May 3rd, 2012. We meet on Thursdays from 11am till 1pm. This will be a Public Project* engagement.

Notes & Responses:

This studio will explore how visual thinking and design can engage and activate participation in building cities that respond to environmental challenges.  Students will conduct ground research and site analysis into our assigned designated ‘hub’ along Broadway, Bowling Green. The goal of the research will be to amass a knowledge base of natural and artificial conditions, historic transformations and current character, all of which will serve as a basis for action and participation in the design process.  In addition to framing and mapping that research to the public, and partnerships listed below, the studio will work in teams to implement a design intervention(s), anchored in the site, that will seek to activate local efforts to create a more sustainable city.

The major themes we will explore in the class are the following:

  • primary and performative research strategies for understanding a site and it’s users
  • design and the construction of a public
  • mapping to identify key actors (human & non-human), relationships and leverage points for a design intervention
  • design tactics to transform behavior: decisive, coercive, seductive, persuasive
  • speculative design based on historical analysis

We will be sharing and collaborating on our designated hub, Bowling Green, with Marymount Manhattan College faculty members, Matthew Slaats (New Media) and Terry Morely (Environmental Studies) and their students.

*Public Project’smission is to break down the walls of the Institute and allow for a dialogue of mutual impact between the community at large and the faculty and students at Pratt. Public Project seeks to broaden the educational experience of our students by organizing engagements with outside institutions, businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Centered around the themes of social practice, research, and entrepreneurship, students engage in opportunities to apply design to real world challenges. In keeping with the mission, the initiative houses a publishing initiative to broadcast student research, critical writings, and formal design experiments to audiences beyond the Institute. This initiative is housed in the Graduate Communications Design Department at Pratt Institute.



 Elliott Maltby


BROADWAY Site: Madison Park

Link to Pratt course description: Pratt_Elliott Maltby_Course Overview

Notes & Responses: Case studies, readings, discussion, site visits [when we can schedule them], and design problems will focus on the complex design of open space and parks in an urban context. We will examine briefly the concept of “public space” and its political implications as one frame for the semester. This will be complimented by an ecological framework, with an emphasis on new ecosystem models based on disturbance, and resilience – which include humans within their scope. In addition to traditional site analysis methods, we will work to invent a more dynamic set of representation practices that reflect the shifting temporal, social, political and ecological facets of urban spaces. How can we best capture the dynamic nature of open space – and how might this approach compliment contemporary ecological theory? New York will serve as our locus of investigation – there are a number of interesting new greenways, plazas, and parks [the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, Federal Plaza, Highline, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Freshkills] adding to the existing rich heritage of innovative planning and design [Battery Park City, Central Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge etc]. We will also look at a few of the more interesting controversies such as the two previous incarnations at Federal Plaza [Tilted Arc and Martha Schwartz’s design] and some of the more colorful abuses of the 1961 incentive zoning [otherwise know as POPS, privately owned public spaces]. There are 3 increasingly complex and larger scaled design projects: the first two designs will be done primarily as individual work. The final project will emphasize and support cross-disciplinary collaboration, with a project design developed at multiple scales, by teams of students. Ecological site research and socio-cultural factors will be function as groundwork for the design process. This is a lecture and workshop exploring programming, planning and design concepts of urban open space. The scope of design projects becomes progressively larger throughout the semester, starting with small recreation areas, corporate plazas and cultural facilities, and leading to the programming, planning and design of pedestrian malls, waterfront rehabilitation and civic scale plazas. In conjunction with workshop projects, lectures with illustrative material are given on the specific issues of site feasibility, site programming, site planning and design strategies.

The objectives of this course are to teach students about the programming, planning and design strategies of contemporary urban open spaces. Urban open spaces are grouped according to functional typologies and analyzed in a comparative manner to allow students the broadest understanding of differing approaches to similar criteria. Issues discussed include site analysis and planning, development of open space programming, and the relationship of the site to its surrounding context and street fabric, historical and cultural references and traditions, volumetric and spatial relationships and aesthetic qualities. Through analysis, planning and programming, students apply their knowledge to both understanding the opportunities and constraints of a site and then to develop that understanding into a design solution.